If you don’t have money to burn, can you get by with free things all writers need to publish today?
There are lots of premium tools available now for writers. But how much do you need to spend to write better?
Writing and publishing take time and energy. Yet, it is a simple process from a technical viewpoint. It doesn’t matter if you are writing a book, a short story, or an article.
All you need is to store your words safely on a device and check for accuracy before publishing.
Writers, writers everywhere
There is no doubt that Amazon self-publishing and particularly Kindle, has encouraged more and more people to write.
The ebook market has opened opportunities for authors of all ilks to publish a book.
Then some writers want to specialize in articles, blog posts, and SEO content marketing.
With more people looking to work from home than ever before, content creation offers plenty of opportunities for new writers.
But no matter what you are writing, you will need more writing tools than just Microsoft Word. In fact, there are better free options, even for a word processor.
Free things all writers need to use
For almost all writers, all you need is a word processor, a writing checker, and a note-taking tool. Perhaps a basic image creation tool as well.
Of course, there are many great options available to fulfill these needs. But a lot of them cost money each month. And do they do a better job than a free option?
Perhaps, probably and for some, certainly. But then you need to consider if you will use all the bells and whistles that a paying app gives you.
Here is a quick list of some of the most popular paid writing tools with what I believe are the best free alternatives for new writers and publishers.
If you are new to writing, you don’t want to spend a lot of money to get started. You can find your feet with many great free programs.
Then later, you might consider one or two premium solutions. But only when you know exactly what you need and want to improve in your writing and productivity.
1. Free alternatives to Microsoft Word
If you are a Mac user, the choice is easy. Apple Pages will do everything you need from a word processor.
For PC users, Google Docs is definitely a favorite.
But if you want stand-alone software, LibreOffice is the go-to program for lots of writers.
You can also try Apache Open Office, which is quite similar.
You can also check our list of 10 free Microsoft Word alternatives.
2. Free alternatives to Scrivener
Without a doubt, Scrivener is the most popular book writing program for authors.
But if you are a new author, there are some other terrific free options.
My first suggestion is Shaxpir. It is an online program to write novels. There is a premium option, but the free version offers everything a new author could need.
The second option on my list is Wordcradle. You can create character profiles, and there is a brainstorming tool to collect and sort your ideas.
If you need more choices, read our listing of more book writing software.
3. Free alternatives to Grammarly and Prowritingaid
Yes, these two premium writing checkers have a free option. But in both cases, you only get limited checking for very basic errors.
Unfortunately, highly accurate grammar checking apps, particularly for long documents like a book, will cost you.
But there are some worthwhile free alternatives you can try. Most are limited to checking around 1,000 words. So you might need to split your texts for some apps.
The Hemingway app is one of the really popular free writing checkers. It’s not a grammar checker, but it will help you polish your writing.
Slick Write is another similar free app to try.
The other option you have is to use the grammar and spell checker in your word processor. They are not fantastic, but they can help you find common writing errors.
You can compare the best options in our earlier article listing the best free and paid grammar checkers.
4. Free alternatives to Trello and Evernote
I must admit that I have never seen a reason to use either of these popular note-taking apps. And especially not the premium versions.
Every phone now has a note app preinstalled. All of them work well and can do everything a writer needs.
As I have an iPhone, I can only judge from the Apple Notes app. But I’m sure other types of phones like Samsung work just as well.
5. Free alternatives to Photoshop
Photoshop is not only expensive, but it’s also very difficult to learn how to use for beginners.
Yes, GIMP is a free open source graphic editor that is similar. But it also takes a long time to learn how to use it.
If you only want to create images for blog posts and articles or a Kindle ebook cover, Canva is a far better option.
I’m a writer, and I know nothing about image manipulation or design. And I don’t want to waste my time spending hours learning how to use complicated software.
That’s how I stumbled upon Canva a few years ago. It’s super easy to use and creates stunning images in minutes.
The best part is that the free version has more than enough to offer most people.
I’m not shy to spend money when there are tangible benefits. But the free version of Canva does everything I need to do.
6. Free alternatives to Publisher Rocket
For authors who have published a book on Amazon, Publisher Rocket is an extremely popular keyword tool.
It’s not an easy task finding the best categories and search keywords for a story to help sell a book or Kindle ebook.
But if the expense of pro software is out of reach, there are free tools that can do an adequate job for you.
My picks would be Sonar and Keyword Tool. Both will give you good suggestions for fiction and nonfiction.
You can read my article about other free Amazon keyword tool options.
7. Free alternative for paid SEO writing assistants
If you are writing and publishing content articles and want them to rank on Google and Bing, an SEO writing tool is a must.
The only problem for new article writers is that tools like this are not cheap.
For example, the Semrush SEO writing assistant is only available if you pay an expensive subscription for all the services.
There are other premium choices available, but most of them require a subscription.
But luckily, I came across a free alternative a few months ago.
INK for All is a free program you can use to help you optimize your articles for SEO.
I must admit that I’ve been super impressed with what this program can do. And if you’re wondering, yes, I’m using it to write this article.
For bloggers, you can also use the free version of Yoast SEO to make sure your posts are optimized correctly for search engines.
Can you get all the things that writers need for free?
Yes, in most cases, it’s possible to use free writing apps, tools, and programs to get you started as a writer.
It depends on what you are aiming for and what you want to achieve in online publishing.
An author embarking on a story and a new book will have different needs to an article and content writer.
If you are trying to improve the quality of your blog posts, you will need some help with basic SEO.
But for all writers, you have plenty of free choices to enhance your writing and get the word out about your book or articles.
The only exception in my mind is grammar and writing checkers. Almost all free options are usually quite limited and sometimes far from accurate.
Of all the tools I have listed in this article, a premium grammar checker will always perform much better. It can definitely save you time and help you improve the quality of your writing.
It’s the only area I would recommend that it’s well worth considering an investment in a reliable and accurate tool.
But don’t rush in until you are ready and know exactly what you need and want in a writing checker.
Apart from that, yes, there are plenty of free things all writers need that will work perfectly well for you.